Wednesday 7 December 2016

'He would have heard the screams and never stopped to help' - Mum of young man killed when drink-driver slammed into car

Published 29/06/2016 | 14:10

Christina Donnelly holding a photo of her deceased son Brendan (Photo: Mark Condren)
Christina Donnelly holding a photo of her deceased son Brendan (Photo: Mark Condren)
Christina Donnelly holding a photo of her deceased son Brendan (Photo: Mark Condren)

The mother of a young man who was killed when a drink-driver slammed into his car said that people who drink and drive should be 'ashamed' of themselves.

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Shocking figures from Newstalk’s RedC poll recently revealed that one in four men have admitted to drinking and driving.

Christina Donnelly said drink-drivers leave behind “a mount of devastation”.

“Brendan (24) my beautiful son and his friend Lee (26) who had just become a dad were travelling with their partners to Cork airport to go to Amsterdam," Christina told Neil Prendeville on RedFM.

“Anthony Long (29) who had consumed vast amounts of alcohol and cocaine came around the corner on the wrong side of the road and crashed head on into the vehicle in which four young people were travelling, including my son.

“The two boys were killed instantly in the horrific crash. Lee’s fiancé was seriously injured and is still extremely ill to this day."

The incident occurred at 2:40am on October 26, 2009 and Long was sentenced to five years in jail. He served 3 years and 6 months.

“(Anthony) left the scene. He would have heard the girls screaming frantically and never stopped to help them. When he was caught ten minutes later in a farm yard hiding he denied he was driving the vehicle.

Christina Donnelly holding a photo of her deceased son Brendan (Photo: Mark Condren)
Christina Donnelly holding a photo of her deceased son Brendan (Photo: Mark Condren)

“When he was told he left two young men dead on the side of the road and two young girls injured he admitted to being the driver."

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard the father of two had been drinking since 3pm the previous day before attending a pub fancy-dress party and had consumed 11 cans and bottles of beer, seven pints of beer, two vodkas, three shots of After Shock and a line of cocaine before attempting to drive home after a row with his wife.

“He ended up killing two young men who had their whole lives ahead of them,” said Christina.

“When I saw him in court I couldn’t take my eyes of him. I just kept staring at him and thinking you killed my son. You killed my son because of alcohol.  I was staring not with vengeance but just waiting for him to come in and to look in the eyes of someone who had taken the life of my son because of drunk-driving.

“Drink drivers have no idea of the devastation that they leave behind.”

Long apologised to both families in a written statement but Christina said “it went in one ear and out the other”.

“It was too late. Drink-driving was very much highlighted. You do not drink and drive, there had been so many families left devastated. All of us are aware you do not get into a vehicle and drink and drive.

“No matter how much alcohol you have consumed, if you find your car in a car-park and you can start that vehicle, put it into gear and get out on the road you know what you’re doing, there’s no excuse.”

Christina said that Lee’s mother Sandra attempted to take her own life twice after Lee had been killed.

“You’re never the same. I look at his name on the plaque on the side of the road and I cannot take it in.”

She said no parent should have to go through this and that she still carries a lock of Brendan’s hair around in a locket and one of his socks in her bag.

“I ring his mobile just to hear his voice again,” she said.

“People who are still doing it today as this poll highlighted should be ashamed of themselves.

“You do not drink and drive, it’s as simple as that.”

If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (Ireland and UK), email jo@samaritans.org or find your local branch at www.samaritans.org

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